No Compensation for U.S. Citizen Who Was Nearly Deported by ICE

Davino Watson, a twenty-three-year-old man who has taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is a citizen of the United States.

When he was taken into custody, he told everyone who would listen that he was a U.S. Citizen.  He tried to convince the immigration officers, officials at the jail he was sent to, and the judge at his hearing.  But, no one listened.

Watson, who was not a high school graduate, was unable to obtain a court appointed lawyer—because there is no court-appointed attorneys in immigration court.

So, not sure what to do or how to do it, Watson wrote a letter to the immigration officers and gave them his father’s naturalization certificate, trying to convince them of his status.

But, despite his protestations, he was imprisoned as a “deportable alien” for over three years by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Without any apologies or explanations why, he was suddenly released in Alabama—far from his New York home.  The removal proceedings were ongoing for another year.

After Watson was released from his detainment, he filed a complaint.  He was awarded $82,500 in damages by a New York district judge who said that the situation was a “regrettable [failure] of the government.”

But, nine years after Watson was originally detained, an appeals court has reversed the decision saying that even though Watson’s case is “disturbing,” the statute of limitations had expired—shockingly, the statute of limitations expired while Watson was being detained by ICE.

No high school diploma, no attorney, and no one listening to him while he was saying over and over that he was a citizen.  How can he be expected to have fought for his own rights any harder than he did given the situation.

According to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, their hands were tied and they had to follow the precedent.  They said, “There is no doubt that the government botched the investigation into Watson’s assertion of citizenship, and that as a result a U.S. citizen was held for years in immigration detention and was nearly deported…nonetheless, we must conclude that Watson is not entitled to damages from the government.”

The decision made here is truly disappointing.

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